Growing Raspberries

British raspberries

Luckily for all of us, British summer raspberries are now around for months, rather than the old traditional six-week season running to the end of July.

John Harrold, who runs Sunclose Farm in Cambridgeshire with his dad Paul, explains, 'Thanks to new autumn varieties and delaying tactics such as freezing pots and canes (so they think it's winter for longer), we produce berries from early June to the end of October.'

What's the secret to getting them really sweet? 'First, variety choice; second, keeping the soil moist; third, we analyse the soil and leaves to check their nutrients and select the right fertilisers.'

Being woodland plants, the berries need protecting from rain and wind and are picked by hand. 'If you pick too early they're not pink enough, which affects the flavour. Pick too late and they're too soft. We then cool them down which extends their shelf life. Tesco has encouraged us to plant more fields. In 1994 we supplied 25 tonnes, this year we anticipate sending 150 tonnes.'

John's raspberries
As well as producing five standard varieties, John also grows Finest Tulameen and Debonaire, superior in flavour and texture but with smaller yields per acre. Find them in store from April to November.

Classic ideas
Raspberries go brilliantly with lemon desserts, almonds and white chocolate. Also try them in crème brûlée, pavlova, mousse or American shortcake.

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